I want to remember

Keylee Campos - India

May 20, 2020

how the air stuck to my skin in Mumbai

a bright yellow and orange marigold garland gently placed on my neck

disoriented by the harsh white of the room we arrived in

chance encounters with a warm, bubbly woman named Sol

the strange tonic of boiled water, ground turmeric and ginger, black salt, lemon juice, and honey

the sound of monkeys running and jumping on the roof at night

the first blessed taste of chai and biryani 

my host sisters sang to welcome me 

i wore a long magenta kurta and peacock earrings the first day of school

often feasted on guavas sliced and sprinkled with salt and red chili powder

heard a cat purr for the first time

took my first dance class

relearned how to cross the street

relearned what a head nod meant

ran to get on buses

became used to the insistent sound of honking

gleefully met the milkman 

dutifully bought cream rolls from the bakery up the street in the morning

spent an hour or two with the kids and teachers after school 

had regular lunches at the Durga next door 

and took naps in the evening

i loved the smell of homemade ghee simmering on the stovetop

the metal plates and cups found in every home

how bun maska is dotted with tutti frutti

the enthusiasm with which the kids took selfies

the two boys who were intent on having me download a survival game on my phone

drives through rain filled streets during the monsoon season

meals eaten sitting on the kitchen floor

What a struggle it was to take off my first sari

What a headache WiFi and phones were in country

i purchased books when I felt angry 

and went on long walks when I felt lonely 

always stopping to dance in empty classrooms

Keylee Campos